Early voting is under way at Judiciary Square in D.C., and someone who had been out of town for a while could be forgiven for thinking Adrian Fenty is on the ballot. Fenty signs are posted all around, along with those for people who are actually running for something.
Fenty himself, better late than never, issued a statement Friday that should have thrown some cold water on the Write Fenty In effort: “I appreciate the write-in supporters but my campaign is over and I accept the results,” Fenty said. “I ask my supporters to join me in supporting Vince Gray and in voting for Vince Gray, who will be our next mayor.”
But write-in ringleader John Hlinko suggested Fenty’s statement would not end the effort. He said, "The write-in effort is a grassroots one of thousands of D.C. voters” -- perhaps a bit of a stretch. “We all have a lot of respect for Mayor Fenty, and I know some people have already joined him in supporting Chairman Gray, and no doubt others will as well before the election. Other folks will wait until November 2nd, and write in Fenty to send a message in support of his policies.”
If it’s a symbolic effort just to send a message, though, why are people spending time and money trying to get out the vote?
The assertiveness of the write-in campaign is backfiring among some voters. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Lenwood Johnson has been forwarding the campaign’s frequent and frantic e-releases to the Ward One listserv, to nearly unanimous criticism. One of the campaign’s message said, “We understand the Mayor’s need to be politically cordial” -- suggesting Fenty didn’t really mean he doesn’t want folks to write him in.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Fenty and exiting Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee penned a farewell in the Washington Post this weekend, saying, “It is time for us to step aside and time for the city to move forward with new leadership for our schools. We have enjoyed each and every moment of our tenure. Even in times of stark disagreement, you, the citizens of Washington, have inspired us with your strong beliefs and your willingness to fight for the children of this community.” (Rhee’s nemesis Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers also had an op-ed in the Post, warning against blaming teachers for American schools’ many woes.)
Rhee’s temporary successor Kaya Henderson, asked by We Love D.C. if she would like to stay on permanently, said, “I feel like I have no clear idea just yet. I haven’t even taken on the job. At the time when it makes sense,” she said, she and Gray “will sit down and figure out whether or not that’s the right thing for the District and we’ll go from there.” Henderson, a Rhee acolyte, praised Rhee, saying, “We have created a ton of vehicles for parents to be able to be involved in their students’ education, to keep them informed, to hear from them on their ideas and feedback. … I feel like while we didn’t get a ton of credit for it, this administration has reached out more than others to parents and the community, and I hope to continue that and make people feel that.” (The Post’s Valerie Strauss recounts some of Rhee’s most memorable comments.)
In her Washington Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras says Gray “may have quieted the concerns of both education reformers and Michelle Rhee haters” by naming Henderson, “but reports about other personnel appointments he’s considering” -- such as Suzanne Peck for city administrator and Reuben Charles for chief of staff -- “have been disturbing.”
* Are Republicans “welcome” in D.C. government? Metropolitan Washington Central Labor Council President Joslyn Williams doesn’t think so. According to the Post, Williams, speaking at a D.C. Democratic Party rally Thursday, said, “This is one-city owned by Democrats.” Williams “said Republicans and Independents are ‘welcome to stay here,’” but not to lead: “You’re welcome to pay your taxes, but you’re not welcome to govern the city.” Gray and several Democratic D.C. Council members stood nearby, saying nothing. (Blogger Richard Layman, who says he has voted for D.C. GOP candidates in the past, nevertheless says the local GOP “has a long way to go.”)
* In an editorial, the Post comes out against an elected D.C. attorney general, saying the change “would create a separate power base that, we fear, would be able to impede or even usurp the mayor’s ability to set policy. … No one disputes the argument that the attorney general needs to be independent of undue political interference, but there are ways to strengthen the office without curtailing the mayor’s rightful prerogatives.” The Post says nothing about the fact that 43 states elect their attorneys general, and so far, none has staged a coup.
* Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman says Fenty’s office is playing games on Freedom of Information Act requests.
* In Maryland, the Post endorses Gov. Martin O’Malley for re-election, saying O’Malley “can justifiably say that Maryland has withstood the recession better than many states,” and that he “has been a good, level-headed governor.” While the endorsement is no surprise from a reliably Democratic newspaper, the Post did endorse Bob Ehrlich four years ago.
Both candidates were in Prince George’s County on Saturday. Though the county is heavily Democratic, O’Malley’s margin there could be the key to whether or not he gets a second term. Ehrlich’s campaign also has a new TV spot focusing on taxes, and “interestingly, all dozen voters in the ad -- which is shot in black and white -- are women,” the Post writes. (In the Salisbury Daily Times, college professor Tom Moriarty writes, “All candidates live in a world very different from my own. In their world, everything is in black and white, everybody moves in slow motion and people are followed around by a scary, disembodied voiceover that comments on their every move.”)
* Are the Youngs the Kennedys of Frederick County? The Frederick News-Post says maybe.
* In Virginia, 8th District Rep. Jim Moran has a cash advantage of more than 5 to 1 for the final two weeks of his campaign against Republican Patrick Murray, according to ARLnow. The Post says Moran, who “has won with at least 60 percent of the vote in each of the past six elections,” is confident about winning an 11th term. Murray, however, is optimistic. “We really have a good shot this year, and we have some good poll numbers to prove it,” he told one voter.
Over in the 11th District, fellow Democrat Gerry Connolly isn’t so sanguine. The freshman congressman faces a tough race against Republican Keith Fimian, who raised significantly more than Connolly in the most recent period. The two debated Friday in Woodbridge, the Manassas News & Messenger reports.
* The Post says the two candidates who lost last year’s Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary last year, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran, will campaign together for Democrats in Arlington this week. McAuliffe has been “traveling the state for months building support among local Democrats with a possible retry in 2013 in mind,” while Moran “is seeking to become the next chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia.”
* How many people work for the Fairfax County government? It depends how -- and who -- you count, according to the Examiner.
* Greater Greater Washington says VDOT was supposed to have installed a traffic signal and crosswalk “at the very spot a man was killed” crossing Route 234 in Dumfries on Saturday.
* The Manassas News & Messenger says controversial “adult oriented store” KK’s Temptations opened in Old Town Manassas on Saturday “without a hitch.”
* We Love D.C.’s Dave Levy argues that Nats fans should root for the Texas Rangers in this year’s post-season.
* The Post’s Mike DeBonis is on vacation this week, and kindly suggests his readers take a look at DMV Daily.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC